The Dying Breath: A Forensic Mystery
Published by Penguin Group
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First published in 2009 by Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Alane Ferguson, 2009
All rights reserved
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
The dying breath : a forensic mystery / by Alane Ferguson. p. cm.
Summary: When her ex-boyfriend starts stalking her, seventeen-year-old Cameryn must use her knowledge of forensic sciences to protect herself.
eISBN : 978-1-101-16272-9
[1. Stalking—Fiction. 2. Forensic sciences—Fiction. 3. Coroners—Fiction.
4. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 5. Mystery and detective stories.] I. Title.
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To Brent Safer, who gave me Ireland, and his beautiful wife, Kathy, my true SL!
“THERE’S NO WAY I can let you in that house with the remains,” Sheriff Jacobs told Cameryn. A small man, the sheriff leaned his hip against the porch’s wooden railing, his expression obscured by the sun’s reflection on his glasses. He took a long drag from his cigarette, sending a plume into the frigid February air, then lazily flicked the ashes onto the snow-encrusted bushes below. “Sorry to smoke in front of you—I wouldn’t do it ’cept it cuts the smell. There’s not another odor in this world like the stench of a decaying human and I, for one, can’t stand it.” Another drag, and then, “And I’d appreciate it if you stopped rolling your eyes at me, Cameryn Mahoney. I know you’re assistant to the coroner, but you’re only seventeen and your father, the real coroner, ain’t here yet, which means I’m the one in charge. We’re not breaking in until Pat gets here.”
“Except you’re not listening. We don’t have to break anything!” Cameryn protested.
The sheriff cut her off. “Dream on. Leather Ed keeps this dump locked up tighter than a drum.” Jacobs waved his cigarette toward the metal bars that wept trails of orange rust onto the home’s weathered siding. “Bars on the windows, deadbolts on the doors, all to protect stuff that isn’t even worth stealing. Soon as my deputy gets here he’ll bust us in, and then we’ll go inside, together , to see what’s what. Afterwards you can take your pictures of the dead.” He pinched the cigarette between his thumb and forefinger, taking a long drag. “You know, I’ll never understand why a pretty girl like you . . .” His voice trailed off, but Cameryn no longer listened because her mind was focused on other things.
The answer, she knew, was in the door itself. She peeled off her thick coat and dropped it next to a pile of trash Leather Ed had stacked against the siding, a stack that had grown to a height of almost three feet. Squatting, she examined the dog-door flap, darkened to black from years of grime. Leather Ed owned an
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